TOWNSVILLE, Australia, June 22 (UPI) -- Australian scientists say they've determined banning certain fishing gear can help save the world's coral reefs from the effects of climate change.
A study by the Australian Research Council's Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, located at James Cook University, found the use of certain fishing gear, such as spear guns, fish traps and beach seine nets, are more damaging to corals, coral-dependent fish and the key species of fish that are needed to help reefs recover from bleaching or storm damage.
"This is creating a double jeopardy for both the corals and certain types of reef fish," said senior researcher Josh Cinner. "They are already on the edge because of overfishing and the additional impact caused by a bleaching can push them over. He result, he said, can be an accelerated decline of the reef and its fish populations.
"From an ecological perspective, the best response to bleaching is to close reefs to fishing entirely," said study co-author Tim McClanahan of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "But that is not feasible everywhere and is a particularly hard sell among the impoverished fishers in developing countries."
Cinner said selective gear restrictions offer reef managers and fishers alike some middle ground, reducing pressure on the reef and its fish while also providing fishers with some options for their livelihood.
The study appears in the Journal of Applied Ecology.